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Can perfumes and scents trigger asthma?

  • Posted on- Nov 19, 2015
  • 2
Written by site author.

People with asthma or allergies may want to avoid air fresheners and other chemicals used to spread fragrant scents through their homes, and their doctors should be aware of the hazards. The chemicals in some of these products can trigger the nasal congestion, sneezing and the runny nose.

If someone in your home has asthma, it is important to maintain an environment that is free of cleaning products and air fresheners with strong fragrances and chemicals, which can trigger an asthma attack.

Individuals who are affected by allergic rhinitis and asthma may find that strong scents trigger their symptoms. Products with strong odours include:

  • Perfume, colognes, aftershave
  • Hairsprays
  • Lotions, creams
  • Soaps
  • Cosmetics and deodorants
  • Shampoos and conditioners
  • Laundry detergents and fabric softeners
  • Air fresheners
  • Scented candles
  • Cleaning products

In some cases the reaction could be the result of an allergy but often the scent acts as an irritant, triggering symptoms in sensitive tissues of the lungs or nose.

Measures that can be taken at home to avoid asthma attack:
  • Avoid cleaning products with strong fragrances and chemicals
  • Avoid smoke from cigarettes, candles, fireplaces, cooking. Don’t smoke inside any home. Candles put smoke and soot in the air.
  • Avoid mouldy and musty smells caused by mould or mildew.
  • Avoid air fresheners for strong food, bathroom and body odours. Many added fragrances and perfumes are asthma triggers for some people.

Connection between scented products and asthma

There is a strong association between sensitization to allergens and asthma. Children with allergies are at increased risk of developing asthma. Consequently, allergen exposure should be considered in the treatment of asthma. The most significant allergens appear to be those that are inhaled.

While strong odours and scented products (among many other things) may act as an irritant to trigger an asthmatic attack, they do not cause asthma - the predisposition to bronchial inflammation and swelling is a pre-existing condition.

Both allergic reactions and asthma can be aggravated by strong smells which can act as a non-specific irritant to the inflamed airways of the sufferer. However, what is an irritant or trigger for one person may not be for another so it is essential to know which irritants or triggers create a problem for an individual and avoid them.

Furthermore, one must be careful not to confuse dislikes with diseases. Everyone has personal preferences but likes and dislikes should not dictate what the rest of society can or cannot do. Fragrances have been enjoyed for thousands of years and contribute to people's individuality, self-esteem and personal hygiene. One should be considerate about their fragrance use, and should follow proper guidelines.


user profile image
17-05-2017 04:18 PM

I was suffering from asthma and I used to face lots of problems with the scents & room freshners. I was very allergic to them.

user profile image
23-04-2016 08:25 PM

The measures you mentioned can be very effective if there is an asthma patient in your family.

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